ICRA – Catalan Institute for Water Research, Girona, Spain
UdG – University of Girona, Girona, Spain
Aquafin, Aartselaar, Belgium
ATKINS, Bristol, UK

Partner organizations

BayFOR - Bavarian Research Alliance, Munich, Germany
UoB - University of Bath, Bath, UK
STW - Severn Trent Water, Coventry, UK
WDD - Waterschap De Dommel, Boxtel, Netherlands

ICRA - Catalan Institute for Water Research (Girona, Spain)

The Catalan Institute for Water Research (ICRA) is a research centre created for research and innovation in the sustainable use of water. Its specificity is in encompassing several strategic areas of water research, i.e., chemistry, ecology, water technology, and microbiology, in a single Institute. ICRA focuses research of the integral water cycle, hydraulic resources, water quality (in the broadest sense of the term: chemical, microbiological, ecological, etc.) and treatment and evaluation technologies and to transfer this knowledge to society and business network.
Despite being a relatively young Institute (inaugurated in 2009), ICRA has demonstrated the capacity to carry out high quality, internationally significant research. In the period 2009-2013, ICRA researchers published 461 SCI research articles. Currently, there are 11 ongoing European and 23 Spanish R&D projects, 5 European transfer of knowledge projects, as well as several service contracts.

ICRA Research Plan is structured in three major research areas:

Resources and ecosystems

This research area investigates the spatial and temporal dynamics of water resources and its potential effects, especially on the structure and function of continental aquatic ecosystems.

Water Quality

The main objective of this area is to define the concentrations, fate and mechanisms of action of pollutants and pathogenic elements in natural and reused waters.

Technologies and evaluation

This research area develops and evaluates methodologies and technologies for optimizing resources, energy efficiency, and cost minimization of processes related to the urban water system. 


UdG-LEQUIA – The Laboratory of Chemical and Environmental Engineering of the University of Girona (Girona, Spain)

The Laboratory of Chemical and Environmental Engineering (LEQUIA) is a research group of the University of
Girona (UdG) devoted to the development of eco-innovative water solutions. Set up in 1992, the group is part of UdG’s Institute of the Environment (IMA). LEQUIA is a consolidated research group (SGR) recognized by the Catalan Government and a TECNIO centre. TECNIO is the network that brings together leading experts in applied research and technology transfer in Catalonia.

LEQUIA has a team of 40 people, including university professors, post-doctoral and pre-doctoral researchers, and technical and management support sta. Because our work is multidisciplinary, LEQUIA projects oen involve environmental
scientists, chemists, biologists, engineers and computer scientists.

During 2010-2015 LEQUIA researchers have published 122 SCI articles and produced 3 industrial patents. Research activity is carried out with funds from national and international R&D projects, and technology transfer contracts with public and private organizations. The average turnover in 2010-2014 was 1.2 million Euros (of which, 21% came from private funds).

Current research lines are:
• Design, operation and control of advanced processes for the biological treatment of urban and industrial wastewaters
• Valorization of resources within the water-energy nexus
• Environmental Decision Support Systems (EDSS)
• Advanced adsorption/oxidation processes for the treatment of gas and liquid eluents


Atkins (Bristol, UK)

Atkins is one of the world’s leading engineering and design consultancies. We are at the leading edge of innovative solutions, demonstrated through winning numerous technology & design awards. Our professional advice and design solutions are backed by a thorough understanding of the complexities of the industry and its issues supported by the latest technology, including analytical and modelling packages and computer-aided design.
We support the water, wastewater and water-related environmental sectors with services from water strategy planning and flood management to infrastructure design and maintenance as well as providing consultancy and modelling services relating to coastal water and managing water resource.

Atkins works all over the world delivering sustainable solutions to meet the complex challenges facing the water sector. Our team of over 1400 technical and professional experts worldwide command an excellent industry reputation. We have over 30 Water & Environment offices in the UK and representation in 20 international offices. We help clients meet regulatory and financial targets, manage operations more efficiently and provide policy advice, strategic development and technical guidance.

Current Atkins research interests

Atkins leads research both in the UK and internationally and provides thought leadership and innovation for clients. Selected project include:

  • The UKWIR, Chemical Investigations Programme (CIP), an ambitious monitoring programme established collaboratively by all the large water companies in England, Wales and Scotland. The CIP ran between 2007 and 2013 and produced a number of outcomes of critical importance to the UK water industry, also providing the Environment Agency with a demonstrable technical rationale for the next Water Framework Directive planning cycle.
  • SANITAS, a research project focused upon the sustainable management of the urban wastewater system and financed by the European Union under the 7th Framework Programme (Marie Curie Initial Training Network – ITN – 289193. Through SANITAS, Exeter University, supported by Atkins, have conducted leading-edge research into innovative permitting policy.
  • Computational decision makings that identifies the most effective set of measures in relation to achieving water quality objectives for a given amount of investment: The project has enabled clients to identify saving and maximise environmental benefits.

Aquafin (Aartselaar, Belgium)

Aquafin is the wastewater treatment agency of the Flemish region of Belgium. It is responsible for the design, the financing and the operation of collector sewers and sewage treatment plants of an area covering about 13,500 km2 and 6 million people equivalents.

The patrimonium of infrastructures under management on the 31th December 2013 was evaluated as followed:

Number of waste water treatment plants: 281
Number pumping stations and storage basins: 1394
Quantity of sewer pipes (km): 5535

Aquafin was founded by the Flemish Government in 1990 with the accelerated realisation and operation of the sewage treatment infrastructure in Flanders as primary task. Over a period of 25 years, the company evolved from a new player in the sector to a many-faceted partner for actors involved in the implementation of an integrated water policy in Europe.

The R&D department of Aquafin supports and improves the operational activities of the company by introducing new knowledge and leading-edge technologies in the management of both sewage plants and sewers. Currently employing 30 people of which 20 university levels, the R&D department tackles very wide areas, including emerging contaminants monitoring and removal, resource recovery (nutrient, energy, cellulosis) and Life Cycle Assessment.

Areas of research at Aquafin

Over the last years, Aquafin has been participating in 15 EU-projects on water resources, such as FP7 R3-WATER or FP6 projects NEPTUNE and RECLAIMWATER plus in many national water projects aiming at the improvement. Aquafin has accumulated substantial experience in pilot and full scale demonstration of innovative technologies, like for example the full-sacle phosphorous recovery process as struvite from sludge in Leuven, and the innovative advanced treatment for pharmaceuticals removal called BioMAC®.
Marjoleine Weemaes is a senior research group leader at Aquafin, with ample experience in European projects in the wastewater sector. She holds a MSc-degree in chemical engineering. She started her career as a researcher in Aquafin and is now the head of the research department (10 researchers + 4 technicians)

Adrien Marchi is a graduated engineer of the University of Montpellier, France (Polytech’Montpellier) in the field of Water Science and Technology. He also holds an MSc in Water Management from Cranfield University, UK. He joined Aquafin in 2011 and has gained experience in nutrient recovery technologies, emerging contaminants control, Life Cycle Assessment and wastewater treatment plant modelling.


Waterschap De Dommel (Boxtel, Netherlands)

Dutch people deal with water every day. Sometimes the water is too dirty or there is too much or little of it. Waterboard De Dommel has been involved in monitoring the quality of the surface water for many years and we manage water levels in the areas where we live and work. By deliberately giving rivers more space to flow, or even overflow naturally, we prevent floods in our rural areas. Regulating water levels is also of essential importance to our agricultural and recreational sectors. The areas in Noord-Brabant that have a sandy soil, suffer from a shortage of water. We are reducing this by keeping the water longer in certain areas in the region.

Working together for water, Waterboard De Dommel
Waterboard De Dommel is active throughout the entire Dommel river basin, from the Belgian border up to Den Bosch. Currently, there are almost one million inhabitants in this area. As a local authority, Waterboard De Dommel is dependent on your tax contributions, which enables it to continue working on efficient water management. In short: Waterboard De Dommel works, thanks to you.

No worries, we will keep it dry
The maintenance of rivers and streams ensures sufficient water drainage and abundant supplies of nourishment for both plants and animals in the water environment. One of the ways in which the waterboard contributes to this, is by mowing streambeds. As a measure against floods in our rural areas, enough space is given to the rivers and streams to overflow naturally at specified locations. Sometimes, water levels can cause problems. Dealing with these problems is the domain of the municipal authorities. The provincial authorities and the waterboards are closely involved in solving these problems and giving the necessary solutions.

Enough water for every need
By regulating the water levels in waterbodies, we can ensure that nature reserves and agricultural areas have a sufficient water supply. We implement various methods for retaining water in these areas, such as dams, allowing rivers to meander naturally, or by raising riverbeds.

It is wonderful that the water is getting cleaner and cleaner
It is in everybody’s interest that plants and animals can continue to live in our waters. That is why Waterboard De Dommel gives nature a helping hand by cleaning rivers and streams. The waterboard is regularly involved in removing waste from our waterbodies. This is sadly necessary, as inhabitants and visitors throw an annual average of 350 tons of (household) waste (including bicycles, car tyres, furniture, and even cadavers) into the water. In addition to this helping hand, we also allow streams to meander just as they did in the past. By creating differences in flow velocity and volume in rivers, we see an increase in the variety of animals and plants in the river environment.

More and more people are attracted by the water
Waterboard De Dommel believes that a healthy balance between nature and (water) recreation is of great importance. The waterboard is responsible for safeguarding that balance, including tasks such as issuing sailing and permits for canoeing etcetera.

Working with water
If you live on the water and you wish to make changes to the waterbed and/or embankment, please contact us for the necessary permits. Changes can be for instance with respect to: placing art works(divers, dams, etc.); or planting or carrying out (construction) works on the banks (within four meters of the surface water).


Bavarian Research Alliance (Munich, Germany)

The Bavarian Research Alliance, with its headquarters in Munich, was founded in 2006 as an initiative of the University of Bavaria e.V. and the Bavarian Universities of Applied Sciences e.V. and set up as a non-profit private organisation in 2007.

Tasks & Goals

BayFOR supports and advises scientists from Bavarian universities and universities of applied sciences in competition for regional, national and European research funding – particularly with regard to the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (Horizon 2020). The prospects for success of Bavarian actors in the fund-raising of EU subsidies are meant to be improved thereby, and corresponding activities in the ERA, the European Research Area, are meant to be coordinated throughout Bavaria. The BayFOR represents the scientists in Bavaria in that they assume an active role in the support of science and research.

Furthermore, a European Union liaison office in Brussels strengthens Bavarian actors from science and business, in that it conveys essential regional research interests through representation in the structures of European institutions.

It is the goal, furthermore, to increase the participation of Bavarian enterprises – particularly SMEs – in funding programmes and to facilitate closer cooperation between science and business at both a national and international level.


University of Bath (Bath, UK)

The University of Bath is a public university located in Bath, UK. It received its Royal Charter in 1966 and can trace its roots to a technical school established in Bristol in 1856. It is a leading UK university with an international reputation for teaching and research excellence.


Severn Trent Water (Coventry, UK)

Severn Trent was formed in 1974 as a regional, state-owned water authority based in Birmingham and responsible for water management and supply, and waste water treatment and disposal, in the catchment areas of two of Britain's largest rivers - the Severn and the Trent.